Self Portrait (1498) Albrecht Durer Buy Art Prints Now
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Tom Gurney BSc (Hons) is an art history expert with over 20 years experience
Published on June 19, 2020 / Updated on October 14, 2023
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Durer portrayed himself as a gentleman, putting on light-toned clothes and looking sharp. In his self-portrait, he is wearing a black and white doublet that is open. Moreover, he is putting on a striped cap with the same colors and an undershirt that is trimmed with gold.

On his undershirt, silk cord threads can be seen that is blue and white. The silk cord is holding up his cloak that is grey-brown in color and it's seen falling over the right shoulder. Durer has been able to sheath his hands that he used to do his artworks in grey kidskin gloves, which indicates a high rank. This aimed to elevate his social status mainly from a simple craftsman to an artist and to find out artworks among the liberal arts in Italy. In his self-portrait 1498, Durer decided to use a half-length, three-quarter technique with two main points of focus; the hands and face. He puts himself in a room that opens to the outside using a window on the back wall. He channeled this inspiration from Dieric Bouts' portrait known as Man of 1462. It is a format that was used for a long time in Italy and Flanders.

By putting himself on this Flemish format, he included an Italian monumentality in the horizontals and verticals that created the window surrounding. It is also evident how his body is arranged as it repeats the 'L' shape, which is the shape of the window found in the bust. Furthermore, his body shape is supported by his arm that is seen leaning on the foreground ledge. There is also evidence of psychological analysis in all of Durer's exquisitely detailed portraits. There is evidence of this psychological analysis as there is a close contrast between the cold penetrating gaze and the desirable features.

Durer was a printmaker, painter, and theoretician born in Nuremberg and gained lifetime fame through his prints. He trained through Flemish painting influence while the two trips he made to Venice enabled him to discover the secrets behind Renaissance art. As a successful printmaker and portraitist, Durer was employed by Emperor Maximilian who gave him pension in 1515 that was later renewed in 1520 by Charles Vin. Durer self-portrait was given to Charles I of England by Nuremberg's city council in 1636. After Charles was overthrown and executed, Durer's self-portrait was sold in 1651 at his posthumous sale.